My campus recreation journey began when I saw a job posting to referee intramural sports while I was living in the dorms freshman year. From there, I worked my way up to membership attendant, facility manager and a member of the Crimson Council.
I think that working any on-campus job is valuable for undergraduate students, and campus recreation is one of the best places to get work experience. Not only is campus rec a fun and engaging environment to work in, it can also open the door to unique opportunities for students to stay involved after graduation.
My favorite part about working in campus rec is the people I have met. I love greeting my friends and coworkers when they come through the turnstiles. Whenever I am on shift, I like to interact with my coworkers. I try to learn one new thing about every person I am working with each shift so that I can strengthen and create relationships with staff members. Cultivating these relationships has helped me break out of my shell and become an outgoing and friendly person.
I have also become more compassionate and caring. Working an on-campus job can be extremely stressful, as you are working in addition to attending school full-time. I have found that a small bit of kindness and positivity can really turn around someone's day. Recreation is all about inclusiveness and fun, and I believe that those values are promoted here at the University of Utah. By opening myself up to coworkers and guests, I can encourage the right values and present the organization in a positive manner.
I originally thought my path to graduation and my future was clear cut and straightforward. I had set myself up to enter a career in sports journalism, followed by additional schooling in management to work my way up in professional sports. However, after working in campus recreation for a couple of years, I have grown to love the job and the people I work with. I am planning on applying to a graduate assistantship program at the end of this semester, and I am excited to see where that opportunity takes me. I have always loved athletics and the culture surrounding the business, and I think that campus recreation is a unique branch of the industry — primarily because of how welcoming it is. Campus gyms are inclusive places with unique ways to get involved in a healthy lifestyle.
In a perfect world, I would like to work in the offices of a professional sports team. I love interacting with athletes and being a part of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into game day. Working in campus recreation has helped me learn the ins and outs of managing a facility and interacting with all sorts of people, from students to professional faculty. That experience has been extremely valuable in learning what a good leader looks and acts like.
I think that the world is being pushed in a direction that promotes not only physical but also mental health. I believe that the next must-haves in campus rec are creative spaces where students can work on not only their physical health, but also express themselves through creative wellness.
Low-stress wellness classes that educate students and allow them to blow off some steam are a good way to encourage a different demographic of people to get involved in campus rec and wellness. My school offers Bob Ross painting classes where students can paint and follow along with a Bob Ross video. It is one of our most popular classes and sells out quickly every semester. Additionally, we offer lots of fun one-day competitions and games, such as FIFA games, crate-stacking competitions and disco-after-dark rock climbing. These are all fun and unique ways to get students involved in campus rec.
I think that the next frontier for campus rec is continuing to open up the facilities for anyone and everyone to enjoy during their time on campus. Gyms can be intimidating for new users, and improving the interaction interface would be the first step in creating an even better environment for students to enjoy all that campus rec has to offer.
This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Appreciating rec as a unique branch of athletics." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.